I bet you’ve never heard of this movie let alone seen it. So I guess the question is should you? The answer isn’t very convincing but if you want a weird as hell horror movie with a musical robot orchestra and Vincent Price killing doctors in a manner following the 10 plagues of Egypt you should check it out.
The movie is fairly old but is in color. There is also a sequel, that I haven’t seen yet ,but is supposedly even more ridiculous and involves Dr. Phibes being the creator of the pyramids.
Vincent Price plays Dr. Phibes who was in a car accident rushing to his wife who was being operated on. She died on the operating table after 6-minutes of surgery, and he was thought to have perished in the fire. He didn’t die but was left horribly burned, disfigured, and unable to speak without his phonograph machine.
He is pretty much a serial killer who is going after the doctors that were unable to save his wife and he blames them for her death. He also has a female assistant, she is very beautiful and stylish, plays the violin and seems to hypnotize people. She has no real motive for helping Phibes, other than just being attracted to all the death and music. The movie focuses a lot on music and really showcases the robotic band, a little too much.
Dr Phibes seems to have been the inspiration for the main villain Jigsaw in the Saw movies. One of the doctors is killed by a frog mask that tightens on the wearer and crushes his skull. It’s a trap, a lot like a few traps in Saw except there is no way for the Doctor to get out. The final trap is more like a Jigsaw trap since he gives the doctor a chance to actually “solve” the trap. The last plague which is darkness Phibes saves for himself and in a sort of poetic justice he kills himself next to his dead wife.
The movie tries to interject comedy into the horror mostly in the scenes dealing with the police. One thing I found really off was that the plague of the beast was pretty much the only plague not to involve an actual animal. My only real warning for the movie is there are some pretty gross parts involving the locusts. A good movie to watch if your feeling like something a little different.